tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 21, 2014 3:00am-5:01am EST
all be about spending power, but in scotland we're talking about spending and taxation. why in england are we appearing to rule out devolving fiscal powers as well? >> well, first of all -- i don't want to get too, but there should be devolution to scotland and to wale and you need equivalent devolution to english laws. i don't think we can have a situation where we forever ignore this question. >> i was just going to attend to that. >> i thought we were jumping. in terms of should we give lots of new tax raising powers to local authorities -- >> or combinations of authorities. >> in the interests of candor, i've tried to give straight answers so far, my answer, that would be no. i think we've got enough taxes in our countries. i don't want to see reams of more tax.
but i'm proud of the work this government has done to devolve spending powers and real powers to local authorities through the city deals, the devolution of some decision making and spending to local enterprise partnerships through the local growth deals, i think these are really good moves. i'm delighted that we're going to see in greater manchester a new greater manchester metro there. this is great news. but i don't see the need for a lot of extra tax power, no, i'm a bit skeptical of it. >> but who controls the tax? and in reality in england is less than 5%, around 2% of total taxation is actually controlled by local councils. that's the council tax. can you have real devolution of powers to local communities unless they have some say over the taxation that's raised in their areas, the rates of it and the amounts? can the people of england -- >> well, if you take away the system works now, what we've
tried to do as a government is to make sure there's a better connection between decisions made locally and finance. so if you build homes, then you should get the money that goes with those homes to help provide the infrastructure. if you attract business to your area, you keep a greater share of the business rates and also obviously councils are still responsible for setting the level of tax. so i don't accept that there's no connection between the decisions made locally and the money that local councils get. >> we have moved from the situation years ago where a very large proportion of councils' expenditure was raised from what they set. and it's a tiny portion. >> in the last 4 1/2 years moved to a situation where local councils, the consequence of their decisions and the money that flows to them are better linked than they have been. >> if we take those examples of the new homes bonus, the real the is that's a tiny fraction of
the expenditure that's raised and controlled by councils themselves. our major cities in this country are in a far more constrained position than any of their counterparts in europe who have much more power to determine at local level the taxes they raise and how they're spent. i mean, isn't that the real freedom and real devolution we should be looking for? >> well, look, i think what we should be looking for is what we're doing which is city deals which have been welcomed up and down the country by labor leaders, liberal leaders of local authorities, cross party everyone says these city deals that have devolved real money and real power -- >> the power to raise tax. about fiscal devolution, ha was actually welcomed by the mayor of london, the leaders of the london cross party, the leaders of the core cities who all said to actually enable them to have the powers to dwom growth in
their area sto enable cities to grow the way we want them to. this is cross party agreement to our report. it just seems the government is the odd one out here resisting. >> i think you're being a bit churlish. this government has done more than its predecessors to go to white hall and say what money can we find, what powers can we find, over skills, over transport and devolve those to local authorities. if you listen to city leaders of birmingham, manchester, they say it has actually at least transferred powers and money for these city deals to go ahead. look, if you got a whole different plan for how you want cities to work up cancel tax bills and the rest of it, fine, put it on the table. >> and no one is saying, prime minister, that we don't welcome the transfer of spending powers.
we're saying that's only half the story. the leaders of our major cities including the mayor of london have actually concurred with that. in the end, the communities in england, the voters in the cities of england can't be trusted with their own taxation as the people of scotland can. >> i seem to be at the moment the only party leader who is prepared to say to the people of england, you should have some of the rights in terms of rights over legislation that are being given to scotland and wales. if i might say your party is very happy to have discussions with other parties about devolution in scotland, about devolation in wales, you're happy to have discussion about devolution in, but in england you seem prepared to have any discussion. >> order, order. >> those remarks belong in a different venue. >> they don't. i totally don't accept that. >> because they're not an answer
to the question. >> they are an answer to the question. >> what clyde is saying why don't you give to the cities of england what you're giving to the people of scotland and wales. the answer to that the people who should be giving that are the people of england. i don't accept the argument he's putting. >> all i would say is if we talk about an agreement in cross party because the report was cross party and again it is the mayor of london as well as the labor leaders of the major cities who are all saying that real devolution has to involve fiscal devolution as well as that of spending powers. devolving powers to the english mps -- >> we'll return to that. >> the point i was making. you disagree with it. >> you have equivalence for england as you do for scotland and wales, something the labor party doesn't accept. we ought to be trying to get
cross-party agreement in england as in wales and scotland. >> in 2016 scotland will currently retain ten pence of income tax. that may change through the smith process. it's not a new tax, but it's a reallocation of existing funding, will mean a reduction in the bloc grant to scotland. it's a balance, as it were. we, all parties, passed this scotland act in the house. and the treasury seemed quite happy with it. obviously you were quite happy with it. if the hague process and the lord smith process indicate that this could be possible as part of a broader solution on devolution in england, would you, prime minister, accept income tax assignment as part of the answers on english devolution? >> that's a very good question. i think that is quite difficult. i think that we come to the
whole english votes for english laws issue. i think the wrong answer would be an english parliament and an english executive so that we have a fully federal system. the last thing any of our constituents want is another full of mps. we're trying to make the westminster parliament work better so we can address the english again. i don't think assignment is the right answer. >> for england. >> for england. i think the right answer is to address the issue of legislative powers which i'm sure you'll come on to. i think we need to address the issue of how we vote on financial issues where, for instance, the local government wants this decided for england, then it should probably be english mps who run on that. then you have the question of how you handle budgets which i think is very difficult. but i would put it like this. if you give the power to the
scottish parliament to change income tax, then i think you have to have a way in the westminster parliament where english mps are able to avoid tax rates being set by members of parliament whose constituent parts were scottish tax rates, put it that way. >> either way, people representing england or parts of england to decide how much tax they want to raise in order to spend the money they think needs to be spent. >> look, that's a very good question. i think assignment is -- in a system way not going to go to an english parliament is quite difficult to deliver. i think there is probably this question of english votes for english votes is soluble. there has been lots of work that's been done over recent
years whether by -- i think these are -- i don't think -- to answer your question, i don't think assignment for england would work. >> so i think we're one at not having an english parliament do this, but it can be done through the existing mechanism op local government and all you would be doing is reducing the block grant to local government and increasing or allowing them to see transparentally -- >> sir, i think i got the wrong end of this debate. >> devouring all our income tax does go to local government. but it would be open, hon transparent. >> i thought you were saying should you have an assignment of england for increase tax. but you're saying why don't we have an assignment to local authorities of what they eventually get in local income tack? >> as right now without any
changes in the numbers but actually all you would be doing, since you wouldn't be changing the number for the local authority, they'd still be getting the same amount of money, but people would see this is actually their income tax. rather like scotland in 2016, there will be no change unless smith changes it. but that scottish people will see that an element of their income tax is retained in their country. and english local government as a whole would see that an element of income tax is retained through the dclg. >> i'm not quite sure i see the point of that. >> transparency and -- >> you can't change it. why are we devolving -- i have to look and think about this, we have complicated issues before us this morning. but the point about scotland is not only is here an assignment of income tax revenue, we're saying and here is the power to raise or lower that depending on the decision us want the make in scotland. i don't quite see the point of
assigning revenue to an organization unless you give it the power to poulter it in some way. it could be dangerous because if you assign income tax revenue to say birmingham city council, if the economy has a bad year and income tax revenue goes down then birmingham's revenue would be reduced. >> all i'm suggesting is you are currently assigning the block grant and then give it to local government. why don't you just do it directly so that the elector can see that thissy pay an element of their income tax to fund local government in england. >> we've done this thing of transparency sending every taxpayer where the money goes and that shows how much goes to local government and how much goes to welfare. i think i favor that over what you're suggesting, but this is a two-way exchange of ideas so
i'll take that away. >> suggestions about aspects of wealthy have laid themselves to being devolved of scotland. which areas of welfare, do you think should be devolved? >> well, it's difficult to answer this because we're in the middle of the smith commission process and i don't want to say things that make my team on smith any more difficult or your team on smith more difficult. i think the basic principle i think is right is -- and again, it comes back to this -- how do we try and settle the united kingdom into a settlement where we feel it's working for every part of the country. work out which parts of welfare are uk wide and about the solidarity of the united kingdom. the basic state pension for everyone in our united kingdom, you know you got the right to a basic state pension when you
retire and you got the whole of the united kingdom taxpayers behind you. to me that is something i wouldn't want to see devolved. in the referendum campaign and that element of solidarity with the pension. i can't get religious about other aspects of health care. the arguments about benefits and what have you, there's a strong case for saying you can devolve those things into an aggregate of local decision making. >> which is due to go to universal credit, then that would mean the role of universal credit in scotland would take a different form to that in the rest of the uk. are you quite relaxed about that? >> this is where we have to let smith do the work on this issue. but clear ly given that universl credit is taking so many things within it, you can't say
anything regarding that is subject to devolution. so if you're saying might it work differently in scotland to the rest of the united kingdom? then that would be a consequence of that. i don't want to go any further otherwise i'll put stirs in the pond -- >> you've mentioned pensions. anything else about welfare you would see as sacrosanct that really should be a uk wide responsibility? >> to me the pensions is the most fundamental. but, you know, i think you can make arguments about others both ways. >> and you'll be quite relaxed if your welfare reform agenda sort of slightly derails if some of these aspects get devolved? >> i hope not. because i think welfare reform is necessary. it's been successful. a number of people on out of work benefits is radically reduced in scotland as well as in the united kingdom.
people are getting back to work. numbers are down in the rest of the united kingdom. and the welfare bill, it's important that we get that under proper control and working age welfare is still a very large bill and they're still i think ways we can better allow people to keep more of the money as they choose then taking it off of them and giving it back in payments. >> that's an argument -- >> i'm trying to answer your question by saying to me the pension is the absolute cornerstone. what does it mean to be british? as well as the shared institutions, the shared history, the place in the world, the things we do together. there's this solidarity aspect in the union which i think is terribly important. that if scotland has a bad year, the whole united kingdom is behind scotland. and if england has a bad year,
that solidarity particularly attracts itself to the argument about pensions. >> identify the pending per head on health. £203 higher than in england. that gap could actually get wider. and yet you've told us that reforming it isn't on your horizon. could you set up how it could possibly be right if you're someone living with heart disease, dementia, arthritis and cancer on one side of the border, there should be so much less of a pot the spend on your health care than there would be if you were the same person living on the other side of the border. >> i don't think there is so much less of a pot. as i said in answer to earlier questions, if we didn't have the barnett formula, we'd have to come up with some other formula that would distribute money according to need, and we'd have a debate about that.
what we have with barnett is a system where if we spend more in england has a consequence for scotland and that leads to the overall level of health spending money that is available in scotland, but, of course, the scottish government has a complete power to spend less than that amount of money, more than that amount of money or the same. it has that choice. and again, sorry to repeat myself. but as you increase the amount of tax and revenue, you increase the relevance of the barnett formula. >> the choice isn't with barnett, it comes geography whether you're living five miles south of the border or north of border. it doesn't fund according to need or deprivation, all those things that have to health seems so unfair. >> that's a good point. what barnett determines is how
much block grant goes to scotland and how much stays in england. and then it's up to the scottish government to then decide not only how much to spend overall on health but also how to distribute health spending as per need within scotland. and that's a decision they rightly make. that's a devolved decision, as is public health. so of course there's a difference between england and scotland, you have to have a formula between the two nations, but then within the two nations we have the department of health and decide how to spend the money and equivalent authorities in scotland on how to spend their money. >> i agree. but there needs to be a formula about how it's distributed. but isn't the issue with barnett that the size of the cake is so much different. so if you have a much larger cake per head to spend, then that's something you can't get around. you're always going to have that. and that is purely an accident
of geography. >> the accident -- barnett, you know, the distribution of money between england and scotland is determined by the barnett formula. but as i said, if you didn't have that formula, you'd have to have something else. it would still then be an accident of geography if you were living just one side of the border or the other side of the border as to which pot your money was coming from. so you've got the national distributions, then you have the distributions within each nation, which should be done by the authorities. >> of course, but coming back to the fact that if you have a larger cake to distribute in first place and that that is a larger cake per head of population, that it's very difficult to make adjustments for that that seem fair across borders, and i think that -- >> i think that's really important. because -- i know, but one more go at this because i think it's important. if scotland and england were exactly the same size and same scale and there was a radically
different distribution, it would have more power. i often say to english colleagues who say why don't -- the barnett formula, is so unfair. if you take all the extra money that scotland gets from the barnett formula and distributed it among the 55 million people in england, it's not a pot of gold. it's not some -- so i think -- if you believe in the united kingdom as passionately as i do, you have to find arrangements that seem fair between the countries. we shouldn't kid our conit is wents that there's a pot of gold called the barnett formula. it's not true. because there are 55 million english people. don't overestimate the size of this thing and also recognize that it will shrink in significance as we devolve fiscal powers. >> i take the point that it will shrink significant. could you set out to what extent
the uk government is actually able to influence health policy in scotland? >> this is really important. a pity there isn't someone from the snp here, we'd have a really good fight about that. although we're not here to be political. but very, very clear, the spending, the block grant that scotland gets is dependent on the barnett formula. but once that money has gone to scotland, it is absolutely up to the scottish government honor how it is devolved, how to spend all of that money, more than that money or less than that money. which hospitals get the money, which doctors, which public health programs. that is devolved. the idea that the continuation of the united kingdom could damage the scottish health service is nonsense. and i think the snp it was nonsense when they said it but they went ahead and said it
anyway because they thought it would win them votes. the scottish people saw through that. it is up to scotland. >> not just you but the others as well in which you said a lot about health, but what you say does not apply to scotland, to wales, to northern ireland, yet it's often central to your -- >> yes. i think there's a problem we've all got which is we need to better explain to people which powers are operated whether and by whom. because people think all the levers are pulled in westminster whether it's the health system in scotland, which is not the case. it's try to get this constitutional clearer so that people in scotland know that paying their taxes, where the taxes go, who is responsible for spending the money. but i think at the end of the day, there's no harm and we have
a lively debate about the health service in wales, we shouldn't shy away from comparing our systems and how we're doing, how much money we're spending, the decisions we take, the transparency we have, the performance of the health service in england versus wales or wales voirs scotland and indeed with education. i think politics should be robust enough that we can have a lively debate. >> for those who do live in areas, you would expect the management of the various services to make it as easy as possible for people to still cross borders. >> yes. i think that's absolutely right. i think perhaps even more an issue in wales than it is in scotland because of the nature of the border and in all the things we do need to make sure we reflect that because a lot of welsh mps will have an interest in the english health service because their constituents use it and across the board. >> i'm also comparing our
systems, the uk systems, the most centralized particularly of england is the most centralized system i've come across in how you raise tax. 100% of tax for an english resident is controlled by government because it was clyde that said even if you look at council tax, it's capped and frozen. one of the arguments if you want a sustainable and fair settlement that everybody can buy into over time is, you know, is this devolution of tax raising powers. as the london mp around the table, you know, i look at, for example, crossrail, take crossrail, that was an issue when i first got involved in politics over 40 years ago. we needed to build crossrail one. everybody now recognizes you need crossrail two now. not another 40 years until that is implemented.
yet the ability to raise the money in london to pay for that infrastructure simply isn't there. i don't know how you think we can sustain a fair transparent -- it's not about who is on the lows, but the taxes and how they're raised and how they're spent. we need to grasp this now and think about devolution of tax raiding powers around property taxation. there's a lot of work been done around that so that decisions can be taken in city regions, in big cities like london without having to wait for agreement across government and without having this massively centralized system that we currently experience in the uk. you can't run away from it. >> no, i want to answer because i'm very proud of the fact that as prime minister i gave the green light to crossrail. and it is on time. it's on budget. it's going to be a fantastic --
>> in 40 years. it took 40 years. >> i agree. but in the end it was funded and the cost -- remember crossrail is the biggest construction project anywhere in europe today. and the idea that in any system london would be wholly able to invest in that literally on its own -- no one -- so what you need is a sympathetic government that has an understanding about the long-term needs of infrastructure and london authorities that do have a bit of financial muscle. that's exactly what we've had with the mayor of london who has the ability to help bring together that money and that's why it's gone ahead. of course, there are arguments for further powers in london as in the cities, but i think we should -- london is doing extremely well. the model of hard working effective there and the government who understands the significance of our capital city not just for itself but the
country is delivering. london is growing, it is doing well. the construction in london is superb. we're about to extend the northern line. you know, it's working. >> i don't want to deprive you of an opportunity to ask questions. >> prime minister, how do you think things are playing out at the moment as far as the discussions are going? expectation is very high post the referendum. we have to remind ourselves that the snp were on the losing side, on occasion, it seems they forget that. but we're at the tail end of the parliament. these are big issues. this is the future of the united kingdom we're talking about. i hope you don't feel in any need to rush things. we want to get the right settlement and not something that ticks the boxes that prove to be unsustainable. >> there's no need to rush, but we've got a timetable. it's a timetable for setting out the steps for scotland, the draft closes in january. the legislation will be for the
next government but good all the parties have committed to taking forward. so i don't feel uncomfortable with it at all for our part the commission, his work is excellent. it's very center ground about what the devolution should look like. i feel very comfortable with it. i've increasingly come to the view that it would only work if you have the responsibility of raising and spending more of their own money. as for the english question, again, no need to rub, bsh, but lot of has been done on how to come up with an answer that works. andrew tiry and ken clark did some very good work in oppositi opposition, we've had the mckie report since then, lord naughten did a very good report. there are a lot of aupgs occupa to make the system fair. we've got to make decisions
about what is the right combination but i think it can be done. >> you have said you don't want to create an english legislature. you don't want to create another tier. to make up their minds on english laws. one of the questions was about a fourth reading of the bill which would finally get voted on by english members of the parliamepar parliament to make sure they're happy with the content of the legislation. how would you feel by that? >> the way i prescribed this -- i'm trying not to take too much time on this but the lord naughton proposal was the serious and the purist. that every stage of that bill is only carried out in this parliament by english. that being the purist form. mckie is probably the gentlist form but mckie introduced this
principle that you just enunciated that matters that affect england and wales shouldn't be done without the consent of english and welsh mps, so you have this concept of legislative consent. he's here so he can correct if i'm wrong. the tyree/clark proposals you have the whole of the house and then if it applies to england and wales you have a committee stage and a report stage where the mps affected discuss, debate and amend it, but then you give the whole of the house of commons a sort of lock at third reading because everyone then votes. so you end up with quite a lot of negotiations between english mps who might take a particular view and the government of the day. so that's got a lot of attraction. there are three good models. we might want to look at taking elements from each of them. but there's a comprehensive answer in the way that maintains
the integrity of our system and that i think can build this forward. >> are you satisfied that all parties are playing a constructive part in these discussions. i know you're fully committed to finding a way forward. but other party leaders are engaging in this process as you are? >> as i said, to mr. betts, when we got a bit heated, so i'm not with that. i would understand if i thought this question didn't really have an answer, but i think it does. there's a cabinet committee which is quite conservative and working on it and doing good stuff. they do want to take part. i hope they'll still engage in this debate, but i think decision time is coming pretty soon because, you know, if we're going to have something available on a similar time scale for scottish devolution, then you need to set out proposals, you'll need proposals
for how we answer this before the election in the early part of next year and that every party will have to put in manifestly what it's going to do, but i'm convinced that i'll have a clear plan for how to address this issue that will be done on a similar time scale to what's happening in scotland. >> you've described mckie proposals as requiring english consent to legislation. but that's not correct, is it? >> the proposal provides for england and wales mps to provide their consent before the third reading. so yes, it's not quite as we were discussing. >> thank you. so it's not in fact consent. it's to provide a voice which may then be overruled by the uk parliament, just to be clear. >> that's right. you can correct me. i think your proposals that you and -- >> i just want to clarify. >> i want to make sure i understand your proposals, too. >> all right.
>> let's come to my proposals for a moment. let's clarify what mckie says. >> mckie says that england or england and wales mps would voice their consent on the final bill after the report stage but before the third reading. a motion will be put immediately after the report to agree with that debate, those measures to agree related to england or england and wales only which could be voted on by england and wales mps only. that's the way mckie -- >> so it's a voice. he provides a voice for the english which then can be overruled at third reading? >> or any of us can go back and find that answer in the documents. >> what i was trying to say is -- >> naughton is the most full throated.
tyree/clark is in the middle. i think there's a combination i'm sure that we can come to. >> it's the principle that i want to get on to, prime minister. to establish the principle that should guide where on what you've described as a spectrum whether or not it is between all these measures, where you would want to end up. do you agree that phrase english votes for english laws will be taken by english voters, probably scottish voters, welsh and everyone, to mean that the english ultimately can veto, can prevent a piece of legislation affecting only then being imposed on them? >> basically, yes, because i would say the principle is -- so the -- >> let me -- >> hold on. >> i want to make sure i get this right. where there's a separate and distinct effect on england, the
consent of english mps should be required. so i think that is -- to answer your question, yes, i think you've got to be able to put that principle into practice. >> it might be helpful, much quicker, if we just photocopied that very good guide -- >> if you can read my handwriting. you'd be pushed to understand my scribbles. >> in which case, what does t t that -- what is required to deliver that consent? that is the question. do you agree that whether or not we use what are called legislative consent motions or whether we just give a simple power to the english to report stage and maybe the english and the welsh with respect to certain bills, the decision about that in the fourth reading proposal, has to be taken at least in or after report stage.
it cannot occur before report stage. because if it does the bill can be aemed back to its original form using uk votes. >> i think there's a very strong argument. i do think that that is the effect that you want to achieve. again, trying to stand back from the detail for a second. >> when you say you, is that you or me? is that the effect you want. >> that i believe we should achieve. i think on this point we're on the same side. >> very involved in all these devolution issues and can send you lots of papers including one on income tax assignment which i think you'll find quite interesting. many of us and millions of people out there thought on the back of that brilliant democratic adventure in scotland that it would be a springboard and an opportunity for serious devolution throughout the union including things like attacking
the sclerotic and hated centralization that mrs. hodge referred to, giving freedom to english localities by devolving to english councils, perhaps even doing on the second chamber by bringing in elected elements from the nation's -- the four nations of the union. but probably also maybe clarifying or even clarifying the unions within the union so this could last for a hundred years. do you think, prime minister, we've missed or perhaps you and the other party leaders have missed a tremendous opportunity to bottle that enthusiasm and actually go forward with a serious program of devolution throughout the union? >> no. i don't think so. because i think we have to take this in stages. we've got the very important pledges made for the people of scotland. it must be delivered. and that will happen. we've got the process of welsh
devolution which we shouldn't underestimate where in this parliament we've gone through a welsh assembly to a law making body and we're now legislating the tax raising assembly in wales. we've cdone all the things already, but we need to sort out the english votes issue with scotland and wales. then i think there is a process. i talked about a process of civic engagement to look at how the empowerment of city, governments across the uk, where i think there's opportunity to look at some of the questions you raised. so i don't think we're limited, but i think we have to take it in stages. there's this to sort out first. >> you seem very chill and relaxed, prime minister. nine weeks ago we were within 400,000 votes of the union
dissolving. 23 million people did not participate at the last general election. the next extreme part of the right has come from virtually nowhere and is about 25% of the polling. isn't devolution part of the answer to some of those questions, engaging people, letting people own their own democracy locally, that's clarifying some of the rules that people understand where we are. don't you see that devolution presents an opportunity, and won't history judge you quite harshly if you miss this opportunity? >> i think a couple of points. first of all, i was anything but relaxed about the referendum in scotland. i care passionately about the united kingdom. i couldn't have been more clear about my own views about how much i cared about this. i could have taken the view of standing back and saying, it's nothing to do with me. i said it would break my heart if scotland left the united kingdom. i felt incredibly strongly about
it and i obviously wasn't relaxed for a moment about it. i played every part that i thought i could play in that campaign. i think it's the right thing to do. i don't regret for one moment holding that referendum. scotland voted for it. >> but breathing a sigh of relief than capitalizing on that momentum. >> i don't accept that. if we were breathing a sigh of relief, why would we be legislating for wales to have tax raising powers, signing city deals with the 7 cities to give them powers and money. why would we be considering some of the issues you raised? i do think that giving people more power and influence locally can make a difference to civic engagement and voting. the real argument that comes out of scotland, when there is an important decision, people do turn up and vote. we got to explain for our own parties how important the next
election is and how important voting makes. but i would argue that this government has been a government of extraordinary devolution. biggest act of devolution in years, referendum on wales, huge amount of devolution in terms of our cities and also more powers to come for wales and scotland. quite apart from the devolution -- often we talk about devolution of politics and politicians. there's also the devolution in terps of neighborhood plans so people can draw up plans for the areas. set up free schools and run acad emmys. devolution of top people is as important as devolution to politicians. >> a point for mr. allen? >> i don't demure from any of the achievements and congratulate on those achievements but history has delivered a moment where we can take this further in a way that many of us never thought was possible and there are threats now which are highly significant
to our democracy. do you feel that a constitutional convention starting to meet before the general election or indeed looking at codeification might be one of the ways in which we can capitalize on the opportunity and oppose some of the very serious risks that i listed? >> i would say to that, first, on codification -- i've never been a great -- look, i think there are arguments. i don't think that will lighten the touch paper of public participation in politics. in terms of conventions what i've said is we should have wider civic engagement on improving governance. i think sometimes when we talk about conventions we forget that we have an organization where the country is divided up into 150 parts and we have free elections and people choose representatives and they send
them somewhere and it's called parliament. a way is engaging people. >> you'd love my paper from the select committee that involves the exercise -- that's another one. the christmas reading is backing up. >> transport is a key part of existing devolution and devolution being offered and well established in scotland wales and northern ireland and referring to what you said before might be extended there, london has transport, but when we look at what's actually being offered now within england, it's very, very piecemeal and very unclear. transport for the north, rail north, the combined authorities all being offered something different and in places not being sure what's being offered. this is piecemeal and disjointed. is there a policy?
>> we're in favor of it and we're doing it. you don't have to do everything exactly the same in every part of the country. but what we are proposing in terms of the north is very significant. that you've got a new body like transport for london, done such a good job in london, transport for the north, that's a big change. this concept of the northern pow powerhouse and high speed rail to link our big cities. you've got changes in greater manchester where you'll be moving to a metro there with significant powers and funds under their command to really drive progress in that vital city. so i don't -- this goes back to clyde betts' argument there's a lot of decentralization taking place including powers and money and transport is absolutely key to this. >> but none of the things you've spoken about are very clear in what they actually mean in terms of powers. let's take rail north. that started off as a grouping of local authorities across the
north having devolved responsibility to work out best rail service for their areas. that lass now changed. it's now described as a partnership where the transport would actually take final decision. so it's really not devolution at all. everything seems very unclear about just what powers are being offered. are you satisfied with that? >> look, if you're saying why don't you scrap all the existing organizations and bodies and come up with a complete shiny new set that makes perfect logical sense, i don't think that's the right way to run things. better to build on what you have and to devolve and to give greater power. transport for the north is in line with that as what we're doing with the city deals -- when i talk to the leaders of manchester, liverpool, birmingham, none of which are this my party, they welcome the
city deals, the ability they've got to put forward the transport programs, the funding programs. it may not be neat and symmetrical in every sense, but our cities are very different. >> but rail is something new and it's changed from the way it was presented to the way it is now. and how are the policies going to affect the gross differentials and despair tis in spending on transport, investments on transport in different parts of the country. london has needs, it has greater needs now planning for crossrail two, which is a strong argument about, but already government figures show spending on transport is at least three times as much per head in other parts of the country. the ippr recent report shows that planned infrastructure spending including transport is about 24 times higher per head
in london than in other regions. how is this going to be addressed? you don't seem to have any -- >> we do. if you look at the city deals, you'll see the city deal in birmingham, in manchester, they are in some cases two or three times larger than the city deal in london. so we are -- and if you look at the investment plans whether hs-2, hs-3, electrifying the line, electrifying the midlands main line, these are all about trying to shift the balance in our country and rebalance between london and the rest of the country. but the london figures are affected by crossrail, which like i said is the biggest infrastructure project anywhere in europe. not surprising that the figures tell the story they do because of the scale of crossrail, which is so large. but the whole impetus of this government on the long-term reconstruction plan, you'll hear more about in the autumn statement and the city deals is to build the other regions and
great cities of our country. >> a city deal is very much to be welcomed but they don't address this gross imbalance of spending. have spoken about crossrail, but london always has needs and they're continuing. these figures are not just plucked out of the air. it's a trend that's been there for a very long time. are you saying that city deals on their own are going to correct this? because by definition those city deals are entities that -- >> i should point out a combination of things. if you look at the government's infrastructure plan, first of all, the city deals i think stopped to address the issue because you're devolving money, power to those cities. if you look at the infrastructure we're planning and the completion of the northern hub, electrification of the line, hs-2 particularly as it goes north of birmingham, you're going to see -- the
mersey crossing, you'll see that built in the northeast, northwest, which do help to rebalance our country. and i think the plan is pretty clear there. >> all those projects are very much there. >> i think all these projects are very much welcome but don't correct the imbalance which is there. while this is going on, greater spending is happening elsewhere and has an impact on the economy, on regional economies and on having a stable entity in the way you describe you want it to be. >> london is not just the city, it's a capital city. the transport needs are huge, and it has an enormous effect on the rest of the country and some of the projects, you know, obviously the tunnel. that's huge, too. the issues we've got over river crossings. so, and that's in the interest of the whole economy, that these things all progressed. i will say if you look at the overall program, the biggest road spending program since the 1970s, the biggest investment in
railway infrastructure since victorian times. that will help rebalance the economy. that's the aim. the aim of all this is an economy not so reliant on london and the southeast and the concept of the northern powerhouse is linking cities which on their own are significant entities but together can be even stronger. and that, i think, has cross-body support and i think will make a real difference to our country. >> it does not have cross-party support, but are you looking, again, at the way in which spending and money is assessed and giving as much weight to potential economic regeneration? >> yes. >> as to pressure -- >> i completely agree with that. i mean, the way these city deals are supposed to work, and to an extent i think they do, is what we do works out where is the power, where is the money we could put into the pot with birmingham, or with manchester? then in response, manchester, birmingham, are supposed to go through what are the projects we
need funded? what's the land we can make available, what are the skills we can increase, what are the needs of the local area? and you put that together in a deal that results in massive investment and growth and jobs and land supply being made available. and i think that is a good, you know -- we've been talking today about how you make mechanisms to make things work, and i think actually in our system, this is quite a good mechanism for building a proper partnership between central government and city government that can make a real difference to the local -- >> distinction between following growth as in london and promoting growth but we have to wait for the autumn statement. >> i've taken enough flak over hs2. look, as a signature project that is about trying to link our country up, linking eight of the ten biggest cities, a massive public infrastructure project that can really have an impact on the economic geography of britain, and funding that at a
time of national difficult solutions, i would argue we're putting the rebalancing of the country first. >> mr. miller? >> there was a huge amount of concern being expressioned by the science community about how things would work out should the vote have gone the other way. and just developing this discussion this morning, further devolution, i'm absolutely with you that jobs and growth should be at the center of our decision, the science area is where we're going to create a lot of our future jobs. there are some structural problems within this area. research allocation, if you have various levels of company tax, rnd, tax credits will vary around the country, heavily funded international projects, astronomy and oceanography and so on. what's your vision for solving
those problems? >> i was very struck in the independent debate, as you said, how strongly the science community came out and said, look, the current system does work on a uk basis. the way they fund, research different universities is an effective system, and it would be tragic if that were to broken up. i think in their own way they made a very powerful argument for keeping the united kingdom together. added to that, obviously the authorities can back science and projects and universities in their own way as well. so i think -- i don't see this system as fundamentally broken. i think it's fundamentally quite strong. i think we should try to build on it rather than replace it. but i'm happy if you've got particular suggestions about how to make it better, i'm happy to entertain it. >> the context of just looking within england, there have been some attempts, and the
chancellor has been quite outspoken on this, welcome, to try and get some of the significant science investment across england, and, indeed, across the uk rather than focusing everything in the triangle. within a devolved environment, how would you see that happening? >> well, i think -- you know, if you think of some of the things -- >> it's got to be led by good science and has to balance the economy. >> look, if you think of how the government has been approaching investment in science, as well as the uk research councils, you've got part of scientific endeavor closer to the market, things like the catapult science, taking vital technology and turning into inventions and growth. those we have distributed in different parts of the country. we're trying to make sure the science base is not -- it's an
absolutely vital part of our science infrastructure, but we want to back whether it's science, bank, the expertise there is in oxford and cambridge, brilliant work being done in sciences in new cacastl and elsewhere. there's an understanding of that through the uk science funding and i think, again, these city deals we have been hearing from cities where they see a great coming together, for instance of medicine and science and research, and how they can back that. so i think the structures that we have catapult city deals, uk research councils, should deliver science investments in the regions rather than having it in london. >> you don't so a welsh research council? >> i think the welsh assembly government should look at how they can further back what the uk research councils do. for instance, if you go to cardiff university, if you go to
the universities in wales have particular parts. the welsh assembly government is absolutely free to think, how do i further want to support that science and research work? i don't think we should scrap the uk research council and devolve it, although i would keep them together and see if the local for if the devolved authorities want to more which they in many cases do. >> thank you, prime minister. we look forward to questioning you again on a different subject on tuesday the 16th of december. >> excellent. so soon. for the past serve years alex salmond served as first president of scotland and scottish national party leader in the scottish parliament. on tuesday he gave his final speech as leader before parliament. mr. salmond led the 2014 pro-ref
referendum campaign. he officially stepped down from his position at his party's annual conference earlier this month but he'll continue to serve as a member of the scottish parliament. this is about 15 minutes. >> thank you. we now move to the next part of business which is a statement by alex salmond, the first minister of scotland. >> standing officer, firstly i have to, not for the first time in this chamber, disappoint. i took it from his question, the first minister's question last thursday he was making a very subtle l last-ditch attempt to persuade me to stay in force. i've given his suggestion great thought but have decided to resign, anyway, at the start of parliamentary business tomorrow. he worked full time to secure his nominations to have a tilt
at the job. i assure him if he so decides, then i'll weigh up his candidacy with great care before casting my vote for my friend and colleague, nicholas. resounding officer, there are now only a minority of members here today who like you and i attended the opening ceremony of this reconvened parliament in 1999. it was a great day. we had moving poetry. the late donald gave the greatest speech of his life. the entire chamber joined in the final verse. one other thing struck me about that day, when the msps entered the general assembly building on the mound, we were cheered then by the public. i've never seen that level of public engagement in politics before until this last summer, i'd never seen it since. the public enthusiasm on that
first day was an inspiration but also a challenge. it was eddie morgan who captured the mood perfectly five years later in a poem to mark the opening of this parliament building. we give you consent to govern. don't pocket it and ride away. we give you our dearest wish to govern well. don't say we have no mandate to be so bold. my view is that on the whole, this parliament has fulfilled the public wishes and then the conse consent. we've accepted the mandate to be bold. our composition now reflects much of modern scott larlascotl. we've become the national hub for debate, the chamber in which people expect to deflekt thecfl values, priorities and hopes. that's not because of any one political party. it's because of the commitment
of so many of the members over the last 15 years. i think in particular some of the msps who are no longer with us, donald, margaret ewing, phil, david mcclechy, john, sam, and, of course, the truly remarkablecdonald. this parliament's proceedings are not perfect. we're not actually 15 years old, we're 15 years young. and you, presenting officer, have implemented significant improveme improvements. this parliament has great strengths and we should never underplay them. at the last speech i made in this chamber, it was at the business and parliament conference with 100 businesses, representatives were sitting in the chamber here alongside six ministers, 17 msps, and people from the subsector, for from the
public sector. last year, more than 400 digit organizations held events in this building. overall in 15 years we've welcomed more than 4 million visitors. that degree of accessibility is not unique in the democratic world, but it's very rare and pretty impressive. i tried to reflect that and approach the government to be key social partners. last week we asked for exactly that point at our regular meetings between government and general council. resounding officer, i've led a minority administration and a majority one minority government requires negotiation. to recognize honest disagreement and then compromise in the public interest. i have absolutely no idea if my experience of minority government in this place will ever come in handy in another
place. interestingly, when we had a my thor t nigh norty my government, the smp, there were hardly any occasions where other parties lined up against us. perhaps the better, more important point to reflect on today, so many occasions in both minority government and in majority government that have been cross-party support for social and economic change. for example, i think on february 2008 when the liberal democrats restore the principle of free higher education in scotland. june 2009 when we passed the most ambitious climate change legislation of any country in the world, we had the support of every party in this chamber including the conservative party.
on march of this year when labor liberal democrats joined with us to ensure that nobody need face eviction from their homes as a consequence of the tax. but most of all, i think about the consistent and often join endeavor against the headwinds of economic circumstance and austerity to make scotland a stronger, freer, and more cohesive nation. for my time as first minister, i have said by some in this place the government's pursuit of national independence clouded out other issues. even that the constitution was of little interest to scotland. that has not been the experience or the verdict of the people. we all just lived through one of the moest invigorating, extraordinary debates of the year. of any country, anywhere, at any time. it is argued that people everywhere have become disengaged from politics. not in scotland, in 2014.
it is sad that they no longer care about the business of governance. not in scotland in 2014. and the last few months we've watched an electorate passionately engaged in the business of fashioning their own future. i see little evidence that the people of scotland resented the government pursuing that business with them and for them. it was considered of the newspaper, a consistent work of this government over the last seven years, to provide today showing 50% smp support on the very day i am leaving. mind you, it might be because i'm leafing. but it's a wise -- it's a wise newspaper that listens to the verdict of its readers. the more important realization is this. we're on a political journey, and each step along the way has
been dictated by the impact of the constitution on issues which mean the most to ordinary scots. this parliament was reborn out of the realization we could no longer be dictated by governments without democratic legitimacy. we progressed because people became impatient with politicians who wanted to minister rather than to govern. and we'll grow further yet because people wish to shape the circumstances around them and are demanding in the parliament fully equipped for that task. the last 12 months have been an extraordinary example of this nation's talents and capabilities. it's been a year of substantial economic progress. 50,000 people. more people in employment in scotland. women in employment in scotland. showing onward investment at a
17-year high. we staged the ryder cup and organized the greatest ever commonwealth games. and the referendum which has been hailed around the world as a model of truly participative democracy. scotland has a new sense of political confidence and new sense of economic confidence. they're reinforcing each other, and wherever we travel, start traveling together as a nation, we are transforming this country for the better. resounding officer -- the point to which i wish to end. at the start of my speech, i mentioned the enthusiasm that was generated by the reestablishment of this parliament in 1999. when the msps were applauded into the assembly hall. sustained critical constructive
engagement involving people in every part of the country. most energized, empowered, informed electorate in europe. we have a new generation of citizens who understand that their opinion matters. we believe that their voice will be heard and to know that their vote can shape the society they live in. for all of us, that should be a point of pride. a source of challenge. for me, the sense of generational change has been a factor in deciding the time is right to move on from being first minister. for this parliament, it should spur us on to become even more accessible, to serve the new expectations of the people. for everyone in public life, it should inspire us to empower the electorate, as we continue to que quest, to create a more prosperous and equal scottland. i wish each and every one of you well in pursuit of that
endeavor. officer, it has been the privilege of my life to serve as first minister for these last 7 1/2 years. any parting comes with some sorrow, but in this case it's vastly outweighed by a sense of optimism and confidence. confidence we will have an outstanding new first minister, confidence in the standing and the capability of this chamber, and most of all, confidence in the wisdom, the talent, the potential of the people of scotland. scotland has changed for the better over the 15 years of this parliament and years of this government. i'm happy to say with every degree of certainty that more change and better days lie ahead for this parliament and for scotland.
british lawmakers have returned to parliament after a we week-long recess. prime minister david cameron took questions from members wednesday in the house of commons on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues. they debated the implications of restricting benefits for extra rooms and houses with a so-called bedroom tax, as opposed to taxing high-value homes with a mansion tax. this is about 35 minutes. >> order. questions to the prime minister.
mr. graham joan. question number one. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i'm sure the whole house will join me in condemning the senseless attack in a synagogue in west jerusalem this week where five people were killed. one was rabbi abraham goldberg and we send our deepest condolences to his families and friends as well as the families of other victims. this was an appalling act of terror and we condemn all acts of this kind. mr. speaker, this morning i had meetings with ministers, colleagues and others. in addition to nigh colleague this house, i should have further such meetings later today. >> mr. graham jones. >> i think the whole house would echo the comments of the prime minister regarding the incidents in israel. i think it's a tragedy i think we're all deeply concerned about. mr. speaker, how confident is the prime minster that he won't have further defections?
>> there's only one way to secure a referendum on europe, and that is to back a conservative victory at the next election. >> in 2007 -- in -- >> order, order. order. he must be heard. >> thank you, mr. speaker. in 2007 when they gained control of northwest district council, following 30 years of labor maladds statima maladministration, we inherited the worst in the country. i'm pleased to announce by the middle of next year, all homes will be at dere rencent home st. will the prime minister join me in congratulating the group, and a demonstration that labor don't fix the roof when the sun's shining? >> i certainly join my honorable friend in congratulating them in
the work they've done. it's absolutely vital that we bring poor quality housing up to standard and the results they've had are good. it's also important we get britain building and that is now well under way. >> mr. ed miliband? >> let's see if they're still cheering on friday, mr. speaker. i join the prime minister. i join the prime minister in paying tribute to rabbi abraham goldberg who was murdered in the horrific terrorist attack in jerusalem and the other victims. this was an appalling act and all of my sympathies are with their families and friends. mr. speaker, can the prime minister tell us why he's so in favor of the bedroom tax but so against the mansion tax? >> first of all, i make this
prediction. the people behind me will still be cheering him on friday. the point about -- the point about -- when it comes to the -- when it comes to the views of -- when it comes to the views of close colleagues, it is worth listening what the new shadow cabinet member in charge of the election, the honorable lady sitting next to the shadow chancellor said about the leader, said this, there's a wider concern in the public whether he has the leadership qualities to lead his own party, let alone the country. the point about the spare room subsidy is it's a basic issue of
fair ne fairness. in our view, he shouldn't get it in public sector accommodation. it's simple as that. >> in case he's forgotten, two of the people behind him have jumped ship. the others are waiting for the result to see if they should follow. let me just tell him on the bedroom tax today the government is going to court against a victim of domestic violence who has been raped, assaulted, harass eed and stalked by her ex-partner and going to be charged a bedroom tax on her panic room. she's one of 280 victims of domestic violence in this category. can he remind us why that's the right thing to do? >> this is why we have a discretionary housing payment system with money made available to counsel and up to date that money has been undispensed.
>> order. the answers from the prime minister haven't always been fully heard and they must be, and the questions from the leader of the opposition haven't always been fully heard, and they must be. i remind the house that that's what our voters, the electorate, would expect. some decent behavior, robust but courteous exchange. mr. ed miliband? >> the facts, many of these victims of domestic violence are not getting the hardship payment, and protecting the victims of domestic violence should not be a matter of discretion. it is a matter of principle. the contrast of value on this side of the house and that side of the house. now let's talk about the mansion tax. recently -- yeah, yeah. yeah. a penthouse in hyed park sold
for 140 million pounds. is she really saying someone in that house should pay the same amount of annual property tax as someone in a house worth a fraction of that value? >> we have made sure that the richest in our country have made a contribution by putting up stamp duty. we put up stamp duty on empty properties. we're charging foreigners property that come and invest in our country, but the point about this is what we need is a growing economy that's providing the jobs, the livelihoods, for our people. that's what we're getting. whereas what he's had in the last week is a pasting from the pop star. >> that's exactly what i expect from this prime minister. he only feels the pain of people
struggling to fight a 2 million pound garage. we need a tax because it's going backwards on his watch. can he explain why this morning the nhs miss its waiting time targets for the third quarter in a row meaning that 5,500 people waited 62 days for treatment? >> we're certainly not seeing a class -- i have to say. this is -- in the last week, in the last week, mr. speaker he's. called useless, hopeless, doesn't cut it and an absolute disaster an that's just what the front bench thinks. he asked about cancer standards. the number of people treated for cancer is up 50% under this government. we put 12.7 billion pounds extra into the nhs. money he thought was irresponsible. and of the ten cancer standards were meeting nine of them.
>> mr. miliband? >> he has absolutely no answer on the nhs. this is what cancer research -- this is a target -- this is a target that he pledged to meet. this is what cancer research uk -- i know they don't want to listen to cancer research uk. this is what they say. this isn't just about mistargets. thousands of patients are being failed. now, he's missing his cancer targets. they say they're doing a better job in wales on cancer than here. he's missing his cancer target and missing his targets. let me put it to him in terms he might answer. on his visits to rochester, has he had time to explain to people why the last three months near 4,000 people waited more than four hours and more than 700 people waited more than four hours on trolleys? >> i'll tell you what is happening in, nhs, nurse is up by 2,500 under this government. the number of doctors up by
8,000 under this government. millions more patients treated. all because we put in the extra money that they said was irresponsible. now, he made the point about wales. let me give him the facts. last time targets were met in wales was march 2008. the last time the urgent cancer treatment was met in wales was 2008. what is the difference between wales and england? in england the tories are in charge putting more money in. in wales, labor in charge kuting t the nhs and missing targets. >> the truth is -- the truth is the nhs is going backwards on his watch. and the british people know it. and we're going to campaign on the nhs between now and the general election because he has failed. he has failed on the nhs. we all know, mr. speaker, why this prime minister thinks the bedroom tax is great and the mansion tax to fund the nhs is terrible. if you've got big money, you've
got a friend in this prime minister. if you haven't, he couldn't care less. >> well i think, mr. speaker, it's fair to say his week hasn't gotten any better. this was the -- this was the week where he wiped the floor on the television program, and more people believe in the lockness monster than his leadership. the only problem for the labor party is he does actually exist. >> you're all very kind. mr. speaker, the impact of excessive second home ownership on rural communities is it removes demands from surgeries, village schools, rural bus services and post offices and those services so very often close as a result. would he agree to allow the
increasing tax on wealthy second homeowners to create a fund to support those vital rural services? >> well, we have allowed councils to tax more on those homes. i think he's right to say we need to build more houses in order to make sure a village school, village post office, village pub get the support that they need. and under this government that's happening. >> seized over 27,000 patients a year is due to close. the management tell me it's because of cuts that they've got to make. will the prime minister refute this? will he intervene in this reckless management up in the northeast, the nhs in his name and stop this stupid closure now? >> well, let me tell him what is actually happening. in the nhs. first of all, the clinical
commissioning group funding is actually going up by 2% at more than 225 million this year. on the specific issue, according to the figures, over 50,000 patients attended south side general hospital. and on those, 60% didn't require treatment and that is why the new investment is going into the urgent care hub that is being proposed by the local managers and by the local clinicians in his constituency. >> john glenn? >> mr. speaker, unemployment has fallen by 60%. across the county of wilkshire, numbers in training and employment are set to exceed pre-recession levels. does the prime minister agree with me we are on a clear path to improving living standards further for all and the party opposite would put this into
reverse? >> my honorable friend is absolutely right. what we've seen in the last year is the biggest fall in unemployment since records began. we have more people in work in our country than ever before in our history. we've seen now the first rise in the minimum wage ahead of inflation since labor's disastrous recession. and today we take further steps by banning exculusivity in zero contracts. our plan is working and the british people are seeing the results. there are still warning signs out there about the global economy, but we need to stick to our plan and deliver wealth and process terty for our people. >> across the united kingdom, there are two governments redistributing held from the poorest, to the richest. a tax ban and mansion tax to give money to our vital public services. and also a bankers bonus tax,
job guarantees for young people. policies opposed by both the tories and the shouting scottish nationali nationalists. doesn't this tell you, mr. speaker, in scotland we face a clear choice in me. you go to bed with the smp, you wake up with this man as prime minister. >> i'm afraid he's simply wrong. what's happening is that we see 500,000 more people in work in this year, alone, and cuts in unemployment and fewer people claiming benefit in his own swan constituency. that is what is happening. it's not convenient for the labor narrative, but the fact is inequality is down, child poverty is down. number of people in relative poverty is down. nose are the facts. they don't like them but can't hide from them. >> thank you. i hadn't spotted the
opportunity. the same-sex marriage act on the twin pillars of quality and support for -- will he make sure under hthis administration we cn deliver the same rights for those who want to celebrate their marriage as humanists? >> what we said at the time of the debate in the house of lords is there would be a consultation on this issue and that's exactly what's happening. >> seen an unprecedented increase in the numbers. given the closure of central middlesex and continuing weekday closure of alexandria clinic. given the hospital management believe an extra 120 medical beds are necessary and local people want to see the clinic fully re-opened, will the prime minister ask the secretary of state for help to address these concerns urgently? >> of course, i'll discuss it with the secretary of state for health. i'll do this in the context of what he knows which is in his own constituency, the unit at
northwick park is getting a 21 million pound upgrade and is due to open in december. a long-term plan is working, we're putting money into the nhs. a bigger truth, you can only have a strong nhs if you have a strong economy. >> the prime minister has gone further than his predecessors in recognizing our nuclear test veterans, but actions speak louder than words. given how poorly they've been treated when compared with other countries and the fact that one in three of their children have a serious medical condition, the 20% of conceptions ending prematurely, in the hope this pmq will be third time lucky, will the government make a payment of 25 million pounds into a charitable fund in order to help those veterans and descendants in need? after all, we only have to ask them once to do their duty and stand in front of a nuclear bomb. >> first of all, let me pay tribute to the honorable gentle lman who's been dogged in
pursuit of this very important cause. there's a very important ruling out today that has serious implications and it's right that we consider our response carefully. i've asked the defense secretary to meet with my honorable friend to discuss the implications for the nuclear test veteran community. i listened very carefully to what he says. let me just say this. this government has taken the time to deal with some of the difficult issues such as war widows which we effectively saw last week. arctic convoy veterans. i'm determined we deal with this issue, so i hope he'll bear with me while we have further discussions. i want to seek a resolution to this issue. >> mr. speaker, given the prime minister's observation that red lights are flashing on the dashboard of the world's economy, would you agree in relation to northern ireland's economy the two positive measures he could take very soon would be, first of all, to
devolve corporation tax powers to the assembly, and secondly, put pressure on energy companies to reduce the price of home heating oil as well as diesel because of the high dependence in northern ireland on that type of energy? would he take action on those two fronts immediately? >> i think the gentleman makes important points. first of all, on off grid heating oil, there's more that needs to be done to put pressure on companies not just in northern ireland but across the united kingdom. i maintain the commitments that i have said before about what we will be saying and when we will be saying it. but i have to say to him, as we address this issue, we're also going to have to look very carefully at the northern ireland budget and making sure the northern island budget is working and the government of northern ireland is working because that is a very important part of the overall picture. >> this week i'm launching my latest small business awards in chester ahead of -- ahead busin
saturday the 6th of december. will he commit to shopping small and shopping local on small business saturday? >> i can certainly make that commitment, and that's what i'll be doing on saturday. i think small business saturday is a really excellent initiative and i would urge all honorable members to get behind it. in terms of helping small businesses, it is worth noting we're cutting the job tax of businesses up to 2,000 pounds. we're abolishing national insurance contributions for under 21-year-olds. we're extending the doubling of small business rate relief and cut corporation tax for small business. the small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and know in this government they've got a true friend. >> is he aware that the bedroom tax will be remembered just like the tory fall tax which
destroyed margaret thatcher's premiership? he should be ashamed. >> what the honorable gentleman and others on the labor bench have to explain is why is it right that people in private rented accommodation who are claiming housing benefit don't get a spare room subsidy but they think that people who are living in housing should get a spare room subsidy? the second question they're going to have to answer is why did they oppose 83 billion pounds of reductions in welfare that helped us maintain spending on health, maintain spending on schools while taking 3 million of the poorest people out of tax all together? >> thank you, mr. speaker. earlier this year, 20-year-old holly was one of two girls murdered in my constituency by former partners. her father has since set up the holly trust. one of the objectives being to promote the teaching of personal social health and economic
education in schools. it is mentioned in the new national curriculum. the trust feels it needs to be compulsory for all schools and it needs to be taught by external specialists. will the prime minister help with this? >> i'll be careful about what my honorable friend says. first of all, i'd like to send my deepest condolences and that of the house. the trust set up by her family for the high quality program of classes aimed at educating young people about domestic abuse. what we have said is that sex relationship should include relationship education as well, and that goes for all schools. >> thank you. nurses' wages were recommended to go up by 1%, yet his government is blocking even this tiny rise.
how does he expect hospitals like the royal sussex to recruit enough nurses if they simply can't afford to live in the area? >> first of all, we're making a huge investment in the royal sussex hospital, and that will have -- i have to say to the honorable lady, when she says that house prices are rising and are unaffordable, i have never come across a green party politician who's in fiavor of building houses anywhere for anyone. >> thank you, mr. speaker. during his recent visit to ireland, the prime minister will have seen it first hand, increasingly severe traffic issues. can i thank him for ensuring the local growth deal will deliver a new crossing near the town center? but can i ask that what we really need is a new high-level crossing, something that's been planned but not delivered for nearly 30 years now? and will the -- >> i'll look carefully at what
my honorable friend says. i enjoyed my visit to the constituents. i could see the problems of congestion but see how the long-term economic plan in his constituency is working in terms of jobs and growth and he's right about the local growth deal which for warrington is a deal worth over 140 million pounds in terms of government funding and this does include support for the new swing bridge which will help to tackle the congestion as well as unlocking important building sites as well. >> reverend william mccray? >> thank you, mr. speaker. the people of northern ireland welcome the success, assisted through the secret recordings made by the british intelligence services in bringing seven suspected terrorists including terrorist godfathers to court on charges of serious violent activity. however, there is anger that whilst custom officials close an elicit fuel plant every ten days in northern ireland, tariffs for years and cost the economy millions, yet not one person has been jailed in the last 12
years. why are these terrorists and gangsters immune from prosecution? does the prime minister agree this is an intolerable situation, and will he intervene to have the immediate full intervention of the national crime agency in northern ireland? >> first of all, no one who commits crimes in northern ireland should be immune from prosecution. i think he's right to pay tribute to the psni who over the last few years i think have shown just what an extraordinary, capable police force they are, and we should remember how in the conditions in which they were built. the point he makes about the national crime agency i think is important. we would like to see the work of the national crime agency which i think is proving itself in operation after operation not just here in the united kingdom but right around the world is proving itself. it should be playing a part in northern ireland. that's a discussion we need to have with all the parties in northern ireland. i hope over time we can get everyone to see the sense of having this important organization there. >> thank you, mr. speaker. christians and others are being
murdered for their faith in nigeria, syria, iraq, pakistan, and many other countries and elsewhere it's a crime to believe anything but what the state sanctions. would my right honorable friend agree our united kingdom stands above all for freedom of speech, thought, and belief, and we must do all in our power to protect the persecuted and stand up to the persecutors, whoever day are? >> i very much agree with my honorable friend. he's right to make this such a ka cause he pursues in this house and outside this house. a proud record of freedom of speech. in our dealings with other countries, we should always make clear we believe that is the right approach. there's an appalling amount of persecution, religious minorities around the world. some now say christians are more persecuted than other religions in too many countries and names some of them. we should make sure at the heart of our foreign policy is this key issue of religious tolerance. >> is there a champion? >> thank you, speaker.
two reports released today showing local authorities are equipped to deal with child exploitation. i raised all of these issues in april, i raised it with ministers, i raised it in pmqs. what will it take for this government to help vulnerable people? >> first of all, he me commend the honorable lady for the work she's done on this issue. it's important we learn the lessons of what happened and indeed what happened in the city of oxford near to my constituency and elsewhere. i think the report today is important because the most important lesse les lesson it draws, that is not happening in enough towns and cities and needs to. in terms of what this government is doing, the home office is leading this important effort, getting departments to work together. i'm convinced we'll make good progress. >> michael ellis? >> thank you, mr. speaker. on the subject of immigration a
very large sandwich making company are employing 1, 100 people. it's expanding massively thanks to this government's long-term economic plan. there were reports last week it was looking to hire staff from hungary. that's what they gave this country for 3 13 years. the message for the people of northampton and rochester, there are jobs for people in this country and we'd be a bacon buddy short of a sandwich platter if we forgot that. >> i think my friend is absolutely right. what you need is not just proper immigration control both within the eu and outside the eu, but you also need to see welfare reform so it's not an option for people to live on welfare when they could work, and you also need to see, as we are doing, education reform so young people are leaving our schools and able to take on the jobs that are
available. it also means sanctioning those people who are on unemployment benefit, won't fill out a cv, won't attend a job interview, who won't take a job when it's offered. a proper sanctions regime is actually part of a strong immigration policy. >> david crosby? >> in december last year, the prime minister visited and promised there would be 200 extra morning commuter seats to man che manchester by the end of the year. last week, i met the train operator who said they do not know how many seats there will be and don't know when they will be available, but certainly not by the end of the year. can he explain why his promise has been broken? >> we are making huge investment into rail services in and around greater manchester including in his own constituency. on the specific case he raises, i will write to him with the details.
>> mr. speaker, is the prime minister aware over the past year unemployment has fallen by a very welcome 770? does he agree with me that one should actually look behind the figures and statistics and see nearly 800 families that now have a new breadwinner and a brighter future? is this not another vindication of the tough steps he and his chancellor has to take? >> i think my monorabble friend makes an important point. the claimant count is down by 50% since the election and the youth claimant count is coming down by 52% in the last year, alone. you look at the figures released today, they show that people who've been in work for a year or more have actually seen their wages go up by 4% more than twice the rate of inflation. of course, that is their wages before the tax reductions that this government has made because we've been a careful steward of the nation's finances. what we get with labor is no growth, no jobs, and higher
taxes. >> the prime minister apparently add mines that his top-down reorganization of the national health service and the acts that imposed it was a mistake mind bill on friday is an opportunity for him to put right some of those mistakes and repeal the parts of it that impose privatization on our national health service. it's backed by the british medical association, the royal college of nursing, the royal college of midwives, unison, who, those who represent the workers. never have so many people been united against government about ebola, an act that imposed so much on the national health service. will he back my bill on friday and tell people the national health service not for sale, not now, not ever? >> at least he's not -- that's one thing. let me make a couple of points to the honorable gentleman.
independent providers made up 5% of the nhs under labor. they now make up just 6% of the nhs. the government that had the sweetheart deals with the independent sector was the party opposite who handed them money in return for contracts. what we see in the nhs, 2,500 more nurses. 8,000 more doctors. more patients being treated. an nhs that is succeeding because we made reforms and we put in the money. >> last but not least. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker. in 2009, cast as an unemployment black spot. in 2014, unemployment has fallen to 3.5%. we are no longer a black spot. could i advise my right honorable friend that the coalition government to the conservatives and liberal democrats, economic plan is working in berlin? >> well, first of all, can i
thank him for what he says? but also commend him, commend his leadership for fighting for more apprenticeship, more skills. the long-term economic plan is succeeding, as it is in the rest of the country. >> order. you've been watching prime minister's questions from the british house of common. question time airs live on c-span2 every wednesday at 7:00 a.m. eastern and again sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. watch any time at c-span.org. or you can find video of past prime ministers' questions and other british public affairs programs. her answer, i say to my good friend from north dakota, was no. >> thank you, mr. speaker, and i thank my good friend. >> i would just say to my good
friend from wisconsin, that was part of the story. >> i thank my good friend from california. >> domestic prosperity and global freedom act sponsored by my good friend corey gardner from colorado. >> this actually has british lineage. comes from parliament hundreds of years ago where if you've ever seen the proceedings of the house of commons, they say something something, the right honorable gentleman, which has a similar meaning. it's kind of a thinly veiled approach to trying to be polite to somebody you don't really care for. at least in the house of representatives where there are 435 members, a lot of these men and women don't even know who each other are when they're saying my good friend, it's kind of disingenuous to use another phrase from the book. i would say in the case of the senate, there's only 100. they probably know each other. may might not like each other anymore, but at least there's a better chance of them being at least acquaintances if not actually good friends. >> journalist d mark on the world of political terminology. sunday night at 8:00 eastern and
pacific on c-span's "q&a." former white house chief technology officer todd park testified wednesday before a house science subcommittee on last year's healthcare.gov website problems and the security breach in july. the committee subpoenaed park after health and human services officials announced a hacker breached part of healthcare.gov and uploaded malicious software. committee members said park declined previous invitations to testify voluntarily. this is about an hour and 40 minutes. >> this hearing on the subcommittee will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare recess of the committee at any time. good morning, and welcome to today's hearing. in front of you are packets containing the written testimony, biography, and truth and testimony disclosure for today's witness. i now recognize myself for five
minutes for an opening statement. i want to thank my colleagues for being here today, and i want to specially thank our witness for his presence. we've been waiting a very long time to be able to question you, sir. i'm sorry that we had to come to the point of issuing you a subpoena to get that to happen, but i'm glad that you're here today, sir. in fact, the committee has invited you several times before on five different occasions. we wrote directly to you, mr. park, as well as the director of office, science, technology and policy. none, none of those invitations elicited the yes response that we got as a result of issuing you a subpoena. in the course of our correspondence, several claims were made by ostp as to why you were not the individual to answer the committee's questions. such as that you and ostp personnel have not been
substantially involved in developing or implementing the federally facilitated marketplace security measures. that you did not develop our prove the security measures in place to protect the website. that you do not manage those responsible for keeping the site safe. and that you are not a cyber security expert which is an interesting description of you to say the least. you are the co-founder of athena health which you co-developed into one of the most innovative health i.t. companies in the industry. and became very wealthy, in fact, doing that. as governing employee, you helped launch the president's smarter i.t. delivery agenda which created the new u.s. digital service. and you created the beta version of healthcare.gov. how do these activities not require cyber security
expertise? further, on november 13th, 2013, in testimony, sworn testimony before the committee on oversight and government reform, you said that you did not, quote, to quote you, actually have a really detailed knowledge base, unquote, of the website before it was launched and that you were, again, quoting you, quote not deeply familiar with the development and testing that happened prior to october the 1st. end quote. however, the committee has in its possession documents that appear to in your prior national appearance.
a fee that was canceled the evening before it was scheduled to take place, when your colleagues were informed it would be transcribed. mr. park, i find your and the white house lack of transparency intolerable. and an obstruction to this committee's efforts to conduct oversight. it took a subpoena to get you here, sir. it took another subpoena to compel your documents from the white house. but even with that, we have yet to receive all of your documents in compliance with our subpoena issued on september the 19th. exactly two months ago. as a gesture of good faith, committee staff have engaged in multiple in-camera reviews with white house lawyers. yet, there are still documents being withheld from the committee. without a claim of a legally recognized privilege.
that begs the question, what are you hiding, mr. park? i have some theories about the answer to that question. perhaps it is that you knew there were serious problems with healthcare.gov prior to the launch, but you did not convey them on up the chain in your briefings with the president. or perhaps you did. and they were ignored because of this administration's relentless pursuit to launch healthcare.gov on october 1, 2013. no matter what the consequences may be. now here we are a year later, and fresh into the beginning of the second open enrollment, with questions that still remain about this $2 billion debacle you are credited with fixing, a debacle that i might add, a hack
this summer and according to a recent government accountability office report still has weaknesses, as they say, quote, both in the processes used to manage information security and priefssy as well as the technical implementation of i.t. security controls, unquote. we look forward to this opportunity to ask you some of our questions, mr. park. i also, now, ask yew nan muss consent. before i yield to the ranking member, ms. ed bernice johnson, my friend from texas, and because of some conflict with the democrats, we'll come back to mr. swaulwell's statement later on.
i might add that this is likely my last chairing of this sub committee. and i'd like to thank my colleagues for a productive two years of hard work on this sub committee. our staff, both democrat and republican have worked very hard. we've worked together, as i think as bipartisan manner as we can. we might not have agreed on issues, all issues. some issues we did, some we didn't. but it's been a very productive two years, i think, and it's been something that i have been very privileged to chair this sub committee, and i wish all of you very well next year. now i recognize ranking member, ms. ed bernice johnson for her statement. recognize you for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and let me express my appreciation for your service, since this might very well be your last chairing of this committee.
and western you well in the future. we have maintained a great relationship, although i must say that probably 99.9% of the time we disagree. but i want to welcome mr. park, the former chief technology officer of the united states to this committee hearing, and i appreciate mr. park, your willingness to appear before us. i want to apologize to you for all the political theater that is unfolding around your appearance. please keep in mind that this hearing is largely an excuse for the majority to again edges press their dislike for the affordable care act and the online marketplace that has led millions of americans to find medical coverage. i know that they do not like obamacare. the majority have voted, at least 53 times, during this congress, to repeal or dismantle aca.
nevertheless, i want to ask all members here today, to please remember that mr. park is not personally responsible for aca, nor is he responsible for the problems on october 1, 2013. mr. park, it is clear that you were not responsible for how the website performed last october 1. in doling out responsibility for its performance on day one, i think it was fair to assign you zero percentage of the responsibility, which reflects the degree of your actual involvement in developing the website. of course, your job at the white house put you in a position to have more insight than most into how the centers for medicare and medicaid services were doing and developing the program. but the management of the program was up to cms, and the people doing the actual development work were contractors who legally answer to cms. as i'm sure you agree, insight
into what is going on does not q equate to being intimately involved or directly responsible for the website. and of course, your real job at cto during that period had you leading multiple initiatives designed to push technology into the american economy and across society. for example, you were working to make u.s. government data more easily accessible by the public, which can spur innovation, profits and jobs. it has been amply demonstrated by the way that publicly available web service data has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry. mr. park, i think it is fair to say that fundamentally, you were working to make services of the government more readily available to citizens during your tenure at cto. you were working to help reduce
information costs in various areas of the economy. notably, your green button initiative let consumers get a better idea about energy consumption and sourcing. you were facilitating dialog to bring experts face to face with experts from the i.t. world. laudably, you were part of an initiative aimed at stopping human trafficking and another initiative designed to find ways to harness i.t. more effectively in disaster response. i know that as i cite these examples, i'm just scratching the surface of the scope of your job at cto of the united states, regrettably, the committee has made no effort to understand this broad portfolio of your accomplishments there and has shown little appreciation for your patriotic desire to serve, even though it meant leaving the lucrative world of silicon
valley i.t. startups and havente capital. from the bottom of my heart i want to thank you for all you did and tried to do and joining the task of fixing the health ca care.gov after october 1. i hope this won't dampen your enthusiasm for public service. we need people like you to come serve this country. thank you, and i yield back. >> thank you, ms. johnson, i disagree with you on a couple of issues. one is that we have recognized mr. park's accomplishments and responsibilities outside of being involved in
healthcare.gov. in fact, he himself has said he's not been deeply involved, though there are going to be e-mails that we have and you have that show otherwise, so it's not a zero involved, and it seems to be the mantra of this administration that people are not, are zero involved and so have no responsibility to the issues, but thank you, ms. johnson. now i recognize the full committee chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. americans have seen first hand the misrepresentations that sur oumd obamacare. first there was the quote that if you like your health care plan you can keep it. then in a video that surfaced last week, m.i.t. jonathan gruber admitted how the administration sold this to the american people, saying, quote, lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. basically, call it the stupidity
of the american voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing -- obamacare -- to pass, end quote. finally after a year request by this committee, the administration has agreed to have someone who worked in the white house testify about the lack of security of the healthcare.gov website. mr. todd park was the white house chief technology officer for the office of science and technology policy from march 12 to august 2014. joining the obama administration in the department of human services mr. park was one of the principal architects for the healthcare.gov website. kathleen sebelius called it a debacle with an estimated cost of $2 billion. today we review the white house's repeated misinformation about the healthcare.gov website. mr. park's own e-mail show an in depth knowledge about cyber
security issues with the website. he was a primary spokesperson for the white house about the website and security. on october 10, mr. park read an online article by david kennedy, a white house hacker who has testified twice before this committee. mr. kennedy's article was entitled, "is the affordable care website secure? probably not". mr. park commented in an e-mail how he was advised that quote, these guys are on the level, end quote. we're asking mr. park to explain his role in developing the $2 billion website and what the administration knew about the security risk of the website. as of today, the white house still has failed to provide this committee with all the documents that are subject to the subpoena. the ones we do have paint a far different picture than that of the office of science and technology policy. as i mentioned, the committee has not received all